The lived experience of tuberculosis treatment for Mexican Americans living on the US-Mexico border
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This study produced a rich description of the lived experiences of tuberculosis (TB) treatment among Mexican Americans with TB living in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) of Texas. This phenomenological study was guided by Merleau-Ponty's philosophical framework, particularly his theories on mind-body influence, fabric of relationships, importance of culture, and equilibrium. A purposeful sample was recruited through TB clinics in four south Texas border counties: Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr, and Willacy, which make up the LRGV. Interviews from 18 participants were conducted in the participants' preferred language and analyzed. There were five women and 13 men. The majority of interviews (n=16) were conducted in Spanish. Five themes were discovered: a) being observed taking pills everyday b) signs and symptoms, c) importance of family, d) stigma; and e) border living. Stigma has four subconcepts: masks, interactions with others, internalization of stigma, and actions to limit exposure to stigma. The overarching theme was a struggle to find a balance during treatment between being exposed to stigma and isolation from social support. Recommendations have been made in regard to education, practice, and research, and health policy.